Caberfae Peaks, located west of Cadillac in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, has a long, rich history. One of the oldest ski areas in the nation, it got its start in 1938 when the Civilian Conservation Corp. (CCC) carved runs out of the Manistee National Forest. The first rope tow was added a couple of years later, and the rest is history. The Fae, as locals call it, has produced generations of skiers in its 60 years.
Current owners, brothers Jack and Tim Meyer, brought major improvements to the area in the 1980s. They built the resort up and added South Peak, upping the vertical drop to near 500 feet. It now has the highest lift served elevation in the LP. With 30-some runs spread out over 200 acres, four chairlifts and two surface tows, it offers some of the best skiing and riding in central Lower Michigan. You look out over an unending National Forest from the top of the ski hill that stretches all the way to Lake Michigan, 45 miles to the west.
You wouldn't call it fancy. No large glass and chrome hotels. No high-speed lifts. It just offers some great skiing and riding, and it's still a place where jeans and brown-bag lunches are in vogue. What it does offer are rock-solid ski runs that are a delight to ski or ride. You could call it the Alta of the Heartland.
South Peak boasts a fine collection of long, expert runs and long, thigh-burning steeps with no long run-out at the bottom. It keeps you on edge from top to bottom. North Peak, slightly higher than South, is an intermediate delight. Wide runs spill off the peak offering a variety of ways down, some up to a mile long. Beginners can also access the top of North Peak and enjoy an easy run down Smiling Irishmen and Easy Street.
The new Blackmer Day Lodge opened a few years ago. It blends well into its surroundings with exposed timber construction and a two-story stone fireplace at one end. It was blended into one of the original lodges built in the 1930s, which created a rustic ambience in a modern day lodge. Lodging is limited, but the 35-room MacKenzie Lodge, recently refurbished, offers nice accommodations. A recently added outdoor pool and hot tub complete the picture.
The Fae offers a sweet mid-week deal. You get a one-night stay and two lift tickets from Sunday through Thursday, from $59 per person, so you can ski on the day of arrival and day of departure. You can add children, 13-17, for $29 per night, and up to two children, 12 and younger, sleep and ski free with two paying adults.